Friday, June 27, 2008

Writing in the margins of a Billy Collins poem

This one doesn't require a lot of commentary other than:

by Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
who wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

Read the whole poem here. Listen to the poem here.

Find the round-up this week here, at Biblio File.

Find out more about Poetry Friday here.


jama said...

Yet another Collins masterpiece. Just what I needed today. Thanks! :)

Liz said...

Thanks, Karen, I needed something to make me smile today. I really need to seek out this poet! This poem took me away from the pain of a high anxiety week and a sunburned back, at least momentarily. I guess that weeding the garden in jeans that gape at the waist when you bend over isn't a hot idea if you didn't sunscreen said waist. I honestly thought my shirt was long enough to cover...(it hit my hip bones when I was standing up!). Anyway, thanks Billy for a couple of better moments.

writer2b said...

Now I'm thinking of marginal comments I've seen. The only ones I remember are from classmates' essay exams: "I need another beer" and "Pretty handwriting: D." So scathing!

The other thing I just love is to read inscriptions at the front of used books. They all tell a story, don't they? "May the poems of this Southern gentleman speak to a dear Southern lady," etc...

Kelly said...

Billy Collins always makes me smile. Thanks!!

Sara said...

Oh, now you're making me wish I could write on the computer screen: "Billy Collins! My man!"

Kelly Fineman said...

I love that one. And didn't recall reading it before until I reached the egg salad.

And now, I'm wishing I had some egg salad. Perhaps I shall go boil some eggs.

Cloudscome said...

Collins is the man! I fell in love with Ray Bradbury in Jr. Hi while reading my older brother's copy of Dandelion Wine that had been marked up by him and my older sister and maybe someone else before her...

Sara said...

P.S. I forgot to say that my mom gave me her marked-up copy of L'Engle's A Circle of Quiet when I became a mother, too.

Jennie said...

This is awesome!

My favorite notes are the ones I find in my history books, large !!! written next to paragraphs.